The Names Test | Final Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Where is Del Nearing en route to when she stays with James in Chapter 10?

2. What does Charles specifically - and mistakenly - congratulate James for in Chapter 13?

3. What monument figures prominently in both the beginning and the end of the novel?

4. Who does James spend much of Chapter 13 trying to find?

5. What celestial event is approaching as Owen travels to Rajsamand Lake in Chapter 12?

Short Essay Questions

1. What point about the murders does Andahl make in Chapter 9?

2. How has Rowser become more paranoid in Chapter 11?

3. What traumatic experience happens to Orville Benton in Chapter 14?

4. How does Owen experience the murder in Chapter 12?

5. How does DeLillo illustrate James' awkward relationship with his landlord in Chapter 10?

6. What transpires during James' evening with Del Nearing in Chapter 10?

7. What information does Andahl give about the cult in Chapter 9?

8. How does James seduce Janet Ruffing at the end of Chapter 9?

9. How did Del Nearing and Frank Volterra meet?

10. How is Chapter 14 connected thematically to the rest of the novel?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

James Axton's relationships with women change dramatically over the course of The Names. In certain respects, he is paralyzed throughout with the narrative by his inability to connect emotionally with a woman. Write an essay about this transition in three parts:

Part 1) What is the state of James Axton's marriage to Kathryn at the beginning of the play? Why are the two of them separated? How does the living situation at the beginning of the novel seem prepared to break apart, and what series of events effectively ends their marriage?

Part 2) How does James's interaction with Janet Ruffing typify his relationship with the female gender after his marriage ends? What does this attitude toward sex do for his outlook? Is he more or less happy than when he was married? What is DeLillo saying about marriage in this regard?

Part 3) Discuss James's relationship with Ann Maitland. What do the two have in common? How do these similarities create a deeper connection that transcends James's general attitude toward women? Discuss how this relationship matures, and what this means.

Essay Topic 2

Write an essay about the Language Cult and how it becomes a symbol in the novel. To what extent does the language cult exist outside of time and place? In what ways is it stateless and oddly innocent? In discussing the otherworldliness of the cult, determine what it represents to the people who search it out. What do these lost Americans long to find at the end of the search for the cult? To what extent does the cult represent a pre-American world?

Essay Topic 3

The Names takes place in a place and time in which new and unknown dangers are emerging for expat Americans. The novel finds clever and unnerving ways to illustrate these dangers. Write an essay in three parts dealing with the way DeLillo illustrates danger and fear in the novel:

Part 1) Discuss the new international reality that is emerging for Americans in the early 1980's. What is the state of the Cold War at this time? What events have illustrated the new danger posed by religious extremism? To what extent is James Axton's profession the quintessential creation of American expat culture in this time?

Part 2) James Axton is clearly a character what sits at the tip of the spear for international danger. What dangers exist for him throughout the novel? Discuss ambiguous characters, messages, and events that strike him as dangerous? What violent moment serves as the culmination of this nascent danger, and who does James think is responsible for it?

Part 3) Discuss the subterranean actions that place James Axton's life in danger throughout the novel. How has James been an unwitting pawn of the intelligence community? What was hunting him throughout the novel? How does he discover the true nature of his work?

(see the answer keys)

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